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Herculean Teleconferences

 
Olympic Games Rio 2016 image

The world is gearing up for the Olympic games and for a competition that has often been abused as a political tool, these games are on track to become the most calamitous in Olympic history.

The reason that the heads of the International Olympic Committee have been shut away on what must seem like a perpetual telephone conference call go far beyond the usual infrastructure and logistical delays that seem to plague every Olympics, although, Rio seem to be excelling even in this department.

This year’s Olympics are sat in the path of a perfect storm, with a multitude of problems that have been brewing over years, all coming to the boil at the same time.

What’s keeping the IOC chiefs locked in conference calls is the fact that the host nation’s government are currently embroiled in what is shaping up to be the largest corruption and bribery scandal in modern history.

The Petrobas scandal shows no sign of slowing down to allow the Olympics to pass smoothly and with its current tally of 2 former Brazilian Presidents charged and the impeachment of the current President, it’s fair to say that the government of Brazil have taken their eyes off the ball somewhat with an acting President ushered in to try and hold the country together for whom the Olympic games must surely be lower down his list of priorities.

As if a major corruption scandal was not enough, Brazil is also in the grip of a health crisis. The Zika virus has seen several athletes’ pull out and a frantic scramble by the World Health Organisation and key experts around the world to run risk assessments. The last few weeks have seen conference calls between the major world health agencies sharing data modeling and reports to assure the world that travelling athletes will neither aid the spread of the virus nor significantly harm health. Whether or not the reassurances will have the desired effect remains to be seen but what is clear is that the international community will be watching on nervously. For a country whose infrastructure is already stretched beyond belief, mainly due to chronic underinvestment over successive years, a health crisis of this magnitude has the potential to completely crush the already fragile health service. Add to that the hazardous conditions and levels of pollution in and around the venues and it’s clear why many countries are concerned for their athletes. The official advice for athletes to keep their mouths closed when in contaminated waters has done nothing to project Brazil in a positive light.

The Zika virus has seen several athletes’ pull out and a frantic scramble by the World Health Organisation and key experts around the world to run risk assessments. The last few weeks have seen conference calls between the major world health agencies sharing data modeling and reports to assure the world that travelling athletes will neither aid the spread of the virus nor significantly harm health.

Whether or not the reassurances will have the desired effect remains to be seen but what is clear is that the international community will be watching on nervously.

For a country whose infrastructure is already stretched beyond belief, mainly due to chronic underinvestment over successive years, a health crisis of this magnitude has the potential to completely crush the already fragile health service.

Add to that the hazardous conditions and levels of pollution in and around the venues and it’s clear why many countries are concerned for their athletes. The official advice for athletes to keep their mouths closed when in contaminated waters has done nothing to project Brazil in a positive light.

Cheats never prosper, unless…

Of course, it wouldn’t be an Olympic games without some form of political discord and unsurprisingly it involves the Russian Federation who are masters at politicizing the Olympics. With less than a week to go before the opening ceremonies, it is still unclear exactly what athletes from Russia will be making the trip to Rio.

Angry public posturing and somewhat diplomatic conference calls seem very much to be the order of the day, yet the huge uncertainty has caused yet another fracture to appear in these games.

That state sponsored cheating has been revealed just before the Olympics can not be blamed on Brazil, however, the precarious position of these games has forced the hand somewhat of the IOC whose resources are already at breaking point trying to manage the host nation’s issues.

In many ways, this was the perfect time for these revelations to come to light for Russia, who using a mixture of political posturing and an already strained IOC may come through this scandal relatively unscathed as the IOC worry more about the reputation of the Olympics as an elite global tournament.